Race to the Top Funds College Access and Success Initiatives

NASHVILLE — May 15, 2012 — Eight schools and seven non-profit organizations were awarded a total of $500,000 today in Race to the Top funds by the Tennessee College Access and Success Network in its second annual grant competition.

The Network aims to establish a college-going culture in communities across the state by removing barriers to higher education, promoting college persistence, and increasing postsecondary completion rates for all Tennesseans. Driven by this mission, the Network held its second annual grant competition to create new and expand existing college access and success programs. Schools and non-profit organizations applied for three different grant opportunities: Seed Grant, Model Program Grant, and Catalyst Grant. The Network received 42 grant applications from across the state, and the 18 winning project proposals will serve more than 22,200 students and families across the state. The proposed projects include activities such as financial aid workshops, postsecondary retention supports, ACT preparation and college visits.

“The 2012 grant recipients are diverse and represent Tennessee’s underserved student populations at all levels of the education pipeline,” said Bob Obrohta, executive director of the Tennessee College Access and Success Network. “The elementary and middle school projects address the need to create college aspirations early and the postsecondary focused projects stress the importance of not only going to college but also completing your degree or certificate.”

Franklin County Schools ($130,000), the top-scoring Seed Grant applicant, will receive stepped-funding through 2014 to assist the district in achieving its long-term goal of increasing its current college-going rate from 42 percent to 52 percent by 2016.

Kingsbury High School, Meigs County Schools, Chattanooga’s Public Education Foundation, Oasis Center, tnAchieves, and Martha O’Bryan Center were each awarded one-year Model Program Grants for $40,000 to expand and enhance current successful college access and completion programs. Additionally, one other $40,000 Model Program Grant, Bridging the Math Divide, will serve McMinn, Meigs, Monroe and Polk County Schools through a partnership with Cleveland State Community College.

Catalyst Grants are designed to improve college access and success initiatives through investments in resources that enhance services of new or existing programs. Franklin County Schools, Wright Middle School (Metro Nashville), Crockett County High School, East End Prep Academy (Nashville), Knox County Schools, Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering, Southern Word, Martha O’Bryan Center, MadisonAchieves, and The Study Foundation were awarded $15,000 Catalyst Grants.

“Through the Complete College Tennessee Act, we aim to increase Tennessee’s higher education attainment level to the national average by 2025. The Network’s projects directly support this goal while also demonstrating an expanded group of stakeholders invested in reaching the goal,” said Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Through the 2011 and 2012 grant competitions, the Network has awarded over $1.1 million to 29 projects serving more than 33,500 students and families across the state.

For brief descriptions of each project or to learn more about the Network, visit www.tncollegeaccess.org.

For more information, please contact Wendy Tabor, wtabor@tncollegeaccess.org, 615-983-6909.